A NATIONAL Basketball League pre-season clash between Melbourne United and Sydney Kings is the latest national sporting attraction to be lured to Bendigo.
The fierce rivals will square off at the $23 million redeveloped Bendigo Stadium on August 30.
It will be the first of a double-header of pre-season games between the two NBL powerhouses, with the second to be played a night later at the State Basketball Centre.
The United-Kings clash will be the first of two major basketball showdowns to be staged in Bendigo in a 19-day period.
The stadium will be the venue for the Australian Boomers FIBA Asian World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on September 17.
Bendigo Stadium Limited general manager of sport Ben Harvey said he was thrilled to see NBL games being played in Bendigo.
“It’s so exciting to be hosting NBL basketball in central Victoria with the generous support of the state government and our new world-class arena which has made it all possible,” he said.
It’s so exciting to be hosting NBL basketball in central Victoria with the generous support of the state government and our new world-class arena which has made it all possible.Ben Harvey
The game is expected to be one of the first hit-outs for marquee Sydney Kings recruit Andrew Bogut.
The former NBA number-one draft pick signed a two-year deal with the Kings in April after calling time on his 13-year NBA career.
Bogut played seven years with Milwaukee Bucks – the team which made him the number one pick in the 2005 draft - before a move to Golden State, where he won an NBA championship in 2015.
The centre last season joined Los Angeles Lakers and played 24 games before moving to Cleveland, where he fractured a leg just one minute into his debut with the Cavaliers against Miami Heat.
He is not the only big-name to join the Kings, who have also signed Boomers star Daniel Kickert and Kyle Adnam, this season.
A fresh-look Melbourne United has added plenty of firepower of its own through the likes of Boomer Mitch McCarron, Dan Trist and Alex Pledger.
The three are expected to play key roles in United’s championship defence following their 3-2 grand final series win over Adelaide 36ers in March.
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said: This is why we built a bigger and better stadium in Bendigo – to host blockbusters like this in our own backyard.”
Sydney Kings coach Andrew Gaze said he was glad Victorian fans would get an early look at Bogut, a legend of Australian basketball.
“He’s looking really good – he’s in good shape,” he told Melbourne United’s website.
“He’s got to get into game condition because he hasn’t played a lot recently, but physically he’s in exceptional shape.
“He’s got a bit of work to do but he’s coming from a really good starting point because he’s kept his body in pristine condition and he’s pretty healthy at the moment.
“He’s running around, jumping and running the floor really well, so we’ve just got to get him used to banging against some bodies.”
Tickets for the NBL pre-season encounter went on sale this morning via the Melbourne United website.